Where do I begin...To me, HAL is how cruising is supposed to be. The ship was very elegant and classy, like you would picture an old-time cruise ship, but not antiquated at all. It was also very "green" and environmentally conscious and that's something that is very important to me. I never saw a single paper towel or napkin (even in the public restrooms you dried your hands on little washcloth-sized towels) and no disposable plastic ANYWHERE. The drinking glasses in the buffet area were a really heavy plastic that we thought were glass at first, but the plates are all glass/stoneware and the bowls were a very heavy resin type material. In the buffets, you don't serve yourself, you just tell them what you want, so there aren't a thousand people touching the spoons and messing with the food. The food here was remarkable, considering the amount that's served each day. The main dining room was fantastic (atmosphere, food and service) and in the afternoons there were little happy hour specials at different bars on the ship where you get your second drink for $2. We actually had a TUB in our cabin and the bath towels were huge. They even provided blankets for the balcony and up on the outside decks. It was all just amazing. Yes, HAL is sometimes referred to as the "geriatric cruise line", but that is a misnomer. I have been on at least a dozen cruises, and this one was by the far the busiest, but it wasn't geared towards keeping children entertained. (This was my first time on HAL so I can't speak regarding their other ships). That said, they do have a kids' program and I can't imagine that a kid would get bored, (I would be delighted to take my grandchildren on this cruise) but there were no water slides or rock-climbing walls or things like that other than whatever they have in the dedicated kids' area.
One thing I was a little afraid of was that it was going to be a more formal atmosphere than we wanted, but that wasn't the case at all. Even on the Gala nights the wardrobes ran the scale from formalwear (but not much) to jeans and everything in between.
In a nutshell, we are new HAL fans and are already thinking about our next cruise.
Beautiful, aft-facing cabin with plenty of room. Even the balcony furniture was nice!
Glacier Bay is phenomenal! We had an aft-facing cabin with a balcony. The only thing I would change would be to cut out some of the chatter over the loudspeaker.
Ketchikan is a very colorful town and we really enjoyed it. If you're looking for authentic, Alaskan-made items, the Alaska Galleries above the Ketchikan Mining Co. is the place to shop. The proprietor (owner?), Curtis, was a wealth of information, not only about the area but about the artists and their works as well. Ketchikan also has a LOT of typical souvenir shops, and we were hoping to go to the Totem Park, but again we ran out of time.
We had reservations at the Pinnacle the last night, so we never got off the ship. However, just sitting on the balcony and watching the sun go down was breathtaking, so it was nice. I do think that the 5 hours spent in Victoria could be better utilized if that time was divided among the other ports.
Sitka was our favorite port! Again, we went out on our own, but the $10 bus to the Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bear was right there where the ship's shuttle into town dropped us. These two things are well worth visiting; a lot of great work is being done there. It would have been nice to have more time there as well.
We did Juneau on our own. We went up the Mt. Roberts tram and got a shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier, where we walked the trail to the Falls. I wish we had more time there.